In Defense of Fredo

The hapless Corleone wouldn't threaten to throw someone down the stairs

Fredo The God Father

I’m smart and I want respect!

The Internet has erupted like Mount Vesuvius (oh!) over the viral video of a guy calling Chris Cuomo "Fredo." Needless to say, the CNN host did not take this lightly. "It’s a f—ing insult to your people," he shot back. "Don’t f—ing insult me like that. You f—ing called me Fredo. It’s like I called you punk bitch. You like that? Now go get your f—ing shinebox!" (That last bit might not be accurate, by the way.)

At this point everyone has taken a side, either saying that Cuomo is overreacting—and why even bother to engage these gavones?—or that he is right to treat this as a slur, ethnic or otherwise.

Is it, though?

Without question, calling someone Fredo has long been regarded as an insult. For the three of you who have not seen The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, Fredo is the hapless Corleone, the son who failed to protect his father, the accomplice who betrayed his brother, and the casino manager who "was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time! Players couldn’t get a drink at the table!" (Moe Greene’s message, I presume, is to bang on your own time.)

But let’s look on the positive side:

Fredo was a good friend: During the first communion party, while Michael is hobnobbing with Senator Geary, Fredo is having a genuine heart-to-heart with loyal caporegime Frankie Pentangeli. "Seeing you reminds me of New York, the old days!" he says wistfully. If only.

Fredo was caring: Remember when Don Corleone returned from the hospital? Who sat by his side?

Fredo was mostly a loving brother: Remember when he takes Michael out in Havana (no, not the Superman scene). "How do you say ‘banana daiquiri’?" Fredo asks. And his brother deadpans, "banana daiquiri." I get teary eyed just typing that!

Fredo was always helpful: After realizing he goofed by working with Hyman Roth (and his Sicilian messenger boy Johnny Ola), Fredo gives a heartfelt apology and informs Michael that the lawyer on the Senate committee works for Roth—in other words, the fix was in. This turns out to be useful information.

Fredo was funny: When his older brother Sonny mentions the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor "on Pops’s birthday," Fredo replies, "They didn’t know it was Pops’s birthday." Endearing and hilarious!

Fredo was a caring uncle: He loved to fish and his nephew Anthony obviously enjoyed fishing with him on Lake Tahoe. Plus he provided spiritual guidance, telling his nephew that the secret to catching a fish was praying the Hail Mary. He would’ve been a terrific confirmation sponsor if not for that "boating accident."

In truth, Cuomo showed he’s more of a hothead: "You’re gonna have a f—ing problem," he threatens the guy. "I’ll f—ing ruin your s—t. I’ll f—ing throw you down these stairs like a f—ing punk." Fredo would’ve never said that. Rather, it’s something you’d hear from Sonny. Corleone, not Bunch. Well, maybe both.